(3:30 p.m. BST) -- Expedition cruise line, Hurtigruten, launched the world’s first hybrid-powered cruise ship, Roald Amundsen, in Tromso, Norway, today.
The first passengers boarded the 530-passenger ship last night (July 2) with some applauding as they took their first steps around the vessel.
Speaking moments before the vessel was due to embark on its maiden voyage, Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam said: “I had a little tear in my eye when the Roald Amundsen arrived in Tromso ahead of its maiden voyage.
"We are so excited and relieved to finally have guests onboard. We have been working for years to make this ship absolutely ground-breaking. We are so passionate about finally being able to show our guests how good it really is."
In addition to featuring the world’s first hybrid power system, the Roald Amundsen includes a handful of other industry firsts. Instead of having a theatre or cinema, the vessel is home to a Science Centre where passengers can work alongside experienced research scientists to take part in citizen science projects. The Science Centre will also host daily lectures on everything from history to geology.
"Other cruise lines claim to have a science centre," said expedition leader Karin Strand ahead of the maiden voyage. “So when I tell people about the one on the MS Roald Amundsen people often say 'yeah, yeah, a science centre’. But this is more than just a science centre on paper. You could do a PHD here and people will."
The ship will also showcase the largest LED screen at sea. Towering 17.5 metres, the screen takes pride of place in the atrium, in front of the lifts, and is used to display films of natural sights such as waterfalls.
Skjeldam wasn’t the only member of the Hurtigruten team who was getting emotional ahead of the ship’s maiden voyage. "The past days have been full of magic moments," said chief commercial director Asta Lassesen. "I hardly have words for it. Seeing the guests coming up the gangplank was amazing."
Captain Kai Albrigtsen added: "The past days have been very emotional. Since we’ve taken her out of the ship yard, she has continued to amaze me. Not just because she’s the world’s first hybrid ship, but because of the interiors, too. This is the world’s most beautiful expedition vessel."
MS Roald Amundsen is the first in the world to utilise battery power to help it cruise between destinations. Although it can sail purely on battery power alone for short periods of time, the ship will use a technique called ‘peak shaving’, which involves using the batteries to back up the engine power, to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 20 per cent.
Roald Amundsen will offer itineraries around the Norwegian Coast before it makes its way to Greenland, Iceland and through the North West Passage.